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by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spring Theme of Man and the Natural World

Hopkins singles out spring for description and praise, since he feels that it is the time of year that brings mankind closest to the harmony of man and nature (and God) that existed in the biblical Garden of Eden. We get the feeling that praising nature in its various earthly aspects is, for our speaker, also a way of praising God, the creator. Without nature, it seems, he could not get so close to God.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Does our speaker only appreciate the natural world as a connection to God and heaven, or is there something else about the relationship that draws him to it?
  2. Why do you think the speaker never refers to himself?
  3. Why does the speaker choose the season of spring? Would the poem work if he was praising the stark beauty of bare trees and snow covered hills?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

By not referring to an "I" in the poem, Hopkins steers the poem away from being about a single, personal experience, and makes it about a broader relationship between mankind and nature.

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